Six Tips for Windows 8 Tablet and Laptop Owners

Windows 8 offers a few settings exclusively for the portable crowd. These tips and quick references are especially suited for laptop owners who need information in a hurry.

How to switching to Airplane Mode

Most people enjoy working with their tablets or laptops during a long flight. But most airlines make you turn off your wireless connection while the plane is in flight, referred to in airport lingo as Airplane Mode.

To turn on Airplane Mode on either a laptop or tablet, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Charms bar and click the Settings icon.

    On a laptop, press Windows+I. On a touchscreen, slide your finger inward from the screen’s right edge and tap the Settings icon.

    The Settings pane appears.

  2. Click or tap your wireless network icon.

    Drag or slide your Airplane Mode toggle to On.

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    That immediately puts your computer into Airplane Mode. Your computer’s wireless radio turns off, and the wireless network icon morphs into a tiny airplane, shown in the margin.

To turn off Airplane mode and reconnect to the Internet, repeat these steps. This time, however, you’ll tap or click the little airplane icon because that’s what represents your wireless connection.

Airplane Mode turns off not only your computer’s wireless but its cellular gear, as well, if you have a cellular data plan. It’s a handy way to shut off all your computer’s radio activity with one switch.

Connect to a wireless Internet network

Every time you connect to a wireless network, Windows 8 stashes its settings for connecting again the next time you visit. But when you’re visiting one for the first time, you need to tell your computer that it’s time to connect.

  1. Turn on your laptop’s wireless adapter, if necessary.

    Some laptops offer a manual switch somewhere on the case; others leave it turned on all the time.

  2. On the desktop, click your taskbar’s network icon. (From the Start screen, fetch the Charms bar, click the Settings icon, and click your Wireless icon.)

    Windows 8 lists any wireless networks it finds within range.

  3. Connect to a wireless network by clicking its name and clicking the Connect button.

    At many places, clicking Connect may connect your laptop to the Internet immediately. But if your laptop asks for more information, move to Step 4.

  4. Enter the wireless network’s name and security key/passphrase, if asked.

    Some secretive wireless networks don’t broadcast their names, so Windows lists them as Unnamed Network. If you spot that name or Windows asks for the network’s security key, track down the network’s owner and ask for the network’s name and security key or passphrase to enter here.

    When you click the Connect button, Windows 8 announces its success. Be sure to select the two check boxes, Save This Network and Start This Connection Automatically, to make it easier to connect the next time you come within range.

Toggle your tablet’s screen rotation

Most Windows tablets are meant to be held horizontally. But if you pick them up, they automatically rotate to keep your work right-side up. Turn the tablet vertically, for example, and your desktop becomes long and narrow.

Autorotation comes in handy when you’re reading a digital book, for example, because the longer, thinner pages more closely resemble a printed book. But when the screen rotates unexpectedly, autorotate becomes a bother.

Most tablets come with a rotation lock button along one edge. (The rotation button is usually near the power button for some reason.) Pressing that button either locks the screen in place or lets it rotate automatically.

If your tablet lacks that button, or you can’t find it, you can toggle autorotation directly from the desktop by following these steps:

  1. From the Start screen, click the Desktop tile.

  2. Right-click a blank portion of your screen’s background and choose Screen Resolution.

  3. Select the check box labeled Allow the Screen to Auto-Rotate.

    When the check mark appears, Windows allows the screen to rotate automatically, so it’s always right-side up. Remove the check mark, and the screen stays fixed in its current position, no matter how you move the tablet.

Repeat these steps to toggle autorotate on or off.

Choose what happens when you close your laptop’s lid

Closing the laptop’s lid means that you’re through working, but for how long? For the night? Until you get off the subway? For a long lunch hour? Windows 8 lets you tailor exactly how your laptop should behave when you latch your laptop’s lid.

To start tweaking, follow these steps:

  1. From the desktop, right-click the screen’s bottom-left corner and choose Control Panel from the pop-up menu.

  2. Click System and Security, click Power Options, and then click Choose What Closing the Lid Does from the left pane.

    Windows offers three lid-closing options for whether your laptop is plugged in or running on its batteries: Do Nothing, Hibernate, or Shut Down.

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    Generally, choose Hibernate because it lets your laptop slumber in a low-power state, letting it wake up quickly so that you can begin working without delay. But if you’ll be shutting down your laptop for the evening, turning it off is often a better idea. That option lets the laptop conserve its battery power and, if plugged in overnight, wake up with fully charged batteries.

    Also, you can choose whether your computer should require you to enter a password when it’s turned back on. (Passwords are always a good idea.)

  3. Click the Save Changes button to make your changes permanent.

Adjust to different locations

The joy of a tablet or laptop’s mobility is tempered with the agony of telling the thing exactly where it’s currently located. Follow these steps to let your laptop know you’ve entered a new time zone:

  1. From the desktop, click the clock in the taskbar’s bottom-right corner.

    A calendar and clock appear in a small window.

  2. Click Change Date and Time Settings.

    The Date and Time dialog box appears.

  3. Click the Change Time Zone button, enter your current time zone in the Time Zone drop-down list, and click OK twice.

If you frequently travel between time zones, take advantage of the Additional Clocks tab in Step 3. There, you can add a second clock; to check the time quickly in Caracas, just hover your mouse pointer over the taskbar’s clock. A pop-up menu appears, listing your local time as well as the time in the additional location you’ve entered.

Back up your laptop before traveling

Backing up a laptop works just like backing up a desktop PC. Please, please remember to back up your laptop before leaving your home or office. Thieves grab laptops much more often than desktop PCs. Your laptop can be replaced, but the data inside it can’t.

Keep the backed up information at home — not in your laptop’s bag.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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